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 The Origin of The Word Setanta

Setanta/Cú Chulainn; Hero, Champion, Poet


Setanta was a figure in Irish mythology not unlike the Greek hero Hercules. He was the son of a Celtic god, raised to be a fearsome warrior. At the tender age of six, Setanta begged and pleaded to be enrolled in Conchobar’s school for warriors - fed up with waiting for permission, Setanta set out for the school on his own.


His arrival impresses the pupils and the King: he excels at every aspect of fighting, and his battle prowess quickly becomes legendary. The King is mightily impressed with the young boy, and invites him to a feast at the house of the local smith, Culann. Setanta dutifully accepts the invitation, although a competition at the school means he will be late for the banquet festivities. The King assures him that the smith will be aware of his late arrival.


But the King is forgetful: he does not tell the smith to expect the boy’s arrival later that night. Believing all of his guests to be safely inside the house, the smith sets out a ferocious guard dog to protect his house.


As Setanta approaches the house, he is confronted with the snarling bulk of hound, intent on ripping out his throat. As the beast leaps forward to attack, Setanta does not cower before the beast, but kills it in a single blow.
All hail him as a hero - all except Culann, the beast’s keeper. He cries out in despair that his house has been left unprotected. So Setanta promises to raise Culann a new beast, and to stand as protector in his place until the pup is ready.